A Square Deal (43)

Rolling onward with this series describing the design and fabrication of a pair of tables in bubinga. Currently wrapping up construction of the coffee table.


Last day of cut out today.  Oh my. Nice to reach a way station. Light at the end of the tunnel I dare say.

Fitted the hammerhead keys to the coffee table top:

A look round the corners with closer views. Corner 1:


Corner 2:


Corner 3:

A little blurry, sorry:

And corner 4:


I feel these came out well. The chamfering on the keys will be tackled when I separate the pieces. The last cut out step on the table was to chamfer the edges (not illustrated), a modest 45˚ chamfer on the upper arris and a concave bead, 1/8″ radius, on the lower arris.

Oh, well, I guess there is a bit more cut out to mention – flattening the table top, crosswise to the grain:

It’s remained pretty flat throughout, and after several months of sitting there is only a slight bulge in the middle and at the edges – the pattern is clear when more of the wood is planed off:

I will continue that task tomorrow – it’s time to resharpen. Thinking I might be through the flattening on 2~3 sharpenings. Super Blue steel. My treasured friend the Tenkei (天慶) by Funahiro said ‘no’ to tear out. Remember that kids – just say ‘no’ to tear out.

And I decided to buy a sander today. My tricep needs a break, and so do my lungs from the dust when sanding the Enduro Var, round after round. It was a pragmatic purchase, however a bit of a reluctant one. I picked up the Festool Rotex RO-125. One of the reasons I chose that size (there’s also a 150mm model), besides its excellent rating for dust collection, was that micromesh polishing pads are available in a 125mm size, and stick right on there. It it the micromesh polishing, through 12 stages of grits that does me in. Alas, I have gone over to the ‘dark side’ with my first sander. Hah!

All for today – thanks for coming by. Post 44 anyone?

18 Replies to “A Square Deal (43)”

  1. Chris,
    That Bubinga finished up really nicely. I have had good luck planing Bubinga also, but the grain in that table top is beautiful. Thanks for posting. By the way, who is the Blacksmith for that finish kanna you used?

    I'm eager to see the finished piece. It sure looks beautiful so far.

  2. Dave,

    thanks for the comment. The blacksmith is named Funatsu, and his tools are 'Funahiro' branded.

    Glad you like the way the piece is coming along. More pics will follow in the next few posts I expect.


  3. Joshua,

    first time commenter I do believe – hello there!

    Yes, the keys are one piece. They slide into the corners – there's a particular order to that, but nothing involving black magic. Will reveal 'how' in an upcoming post.


  4. François,

    well, you might be right about that. I hope no one is feeling tortured. My shop neighbor (you can see him in one of the pics above) was also mystified by the corner joint, and tried to get me to explain (without success). I think though that it's less about wanting to tease than it is a case of hoping the viewer notices something unusual about the corner keys and then that they engage in figuring out the puzzle for themselves. I do the same thing, shoe on the opposite foot, with Kintaro Yoshida's work.


  5. Beautiful work, and was going to head back into this series to find the details of the keys, but now I see it is currently left as a puzzle. From a casual glance, I was originally thinking it was a rising dovetail “trick” (angled key) but given the way they sit proud w/2 pins in each corner, I don't believe that is likely. Following your “notices something” comment I REALLY looked at this again. I have a theory, and a way I think I would attempt, but don't want to blurt it out.

    Also, I am unfamiliar with Kintaro Yoshia's work and can't seem to find anything useful to me when searching (in english), I have thought the same about Kintaro Yazawa's work that I have seen, and I apologize for my ignorance of Japanese language & names if this is who you are referring to or some other master, but links to thought provoking joinery are always appreciated as a source of inspiration and interest for me.

  6. Hi Chris,
    Looking good. I notice the “breadboard” ends ( I don't know what else to call them) seem to be trimmed flush with the top. What is the plan for the time when the top expands and extends past? I like to keep my breadboards longer to prevent end grain from the top from peeking out.

    I think you will find the sander a useful complement to your finishing routine. It can really move things along if you let it. If anyone knows how to use one judiciously, it would be you.

    Harlan Barnhart

  7. I hear what your saying. I'm not familiar with that wood, so I don't have much of a feeling for how much it will move.

    Stock removal is not a strong point of sanders from my experience. As you mention, its slow and unpredictable. A plane tends to produce a “plane” on the surface as you use it but a sander will take off material in a random fashion according to grain, density and user skill. Your mileage may very… Today I used a similar routine, mill with machinery, smooth with a plane and sand with high grit achieve an even surface.

    Harlan Barnhart

  8. Harlan,

    thanks for the comment and question. The relative position of the breadboard end to the table top will change through the year. There will likely only be a certain period in the year where the surfaces are flush. Right now the RH level is about the same where I am building the table as where the table is going to end up, and the RH swing in the installed location is modest, only about 20%, so I anticipate only a modest offset at different times of the year. Thinking that for a spell the table slab will stick out, and for a spell the breadboard end will stick out.

    If I made the breadboard end proud now, then I would be anticipating a range of movement where at some point in the year the slab might swell enough to be flush, and at a drier time of year the breadboard end would protrude even more. Not seeing that as any more advantageous.

    The hammerhead key is proud so that when either the slab or the breadboard end is protruding relative to the other, the key both partially conceals the movement, visually-speaking, and serves as a 'bumper' of sorts so that it is less likely someone will snag their clothing on the proud portion.

    I'm new to a sander, but it proved helpful today. Initially tried it on the more aggressive stock removal mode with the 80 grit sheet which comes free with the sander, but quickly discovered that it is far, far slower than using a plane. So, back to planing, and in a total of three sharpenings, an hour of work, I had the top dead flat. I then used the sander to do a final couple of rounds on the top, finishing at #400, and then got two coats of finish on there before dark. My fingers did tingle from using the sander, which I didn't like much. I guess there must be some sort of gel padded gloves which people use?


  9. Chris, it remind me of my youth when I was taking carpentry course with the compagnons. In the class room, there was a gallery of chefs d’œuvres and models of carpentry and joinery with one impossible corner joint dovetailed on both side and whenewer I would ask a compagnon how to do it he would answer “think and work” until I discovered the only way to do it was to split one of the piece along the grain and glue it back in place! By the way, I love Yoshida's work and it reminds me of the great Alan Peters who first introduced us to the beauty of japanese joinery.

  10. Chris, I'm afraid you wil find pretty quickly that the sander you bought is only good for finishing on small pieces. I've got the 125 and 150 Festool and the smaller one is really slow! The best shop machine we use now are the big belt sander that do both sanding and calibrating, you can work to 1/10th of a mm but they are awfully expensive! Last word, beware of tendinitis, once it starts it's very difficult to get rid of it. I'm 60 and can hardly hold a sander now!

  11. François,

    oh, I would have preferred to buy the 150 model but for the micromesh polishing pads only coming in a 125 diameter. I only plan to use this for flattening finishes and polishing, so we'll see how it goes. I'll have a break for several months from furniture work coming up, and do hear your words about injuries like Carpal Tunnel and white finger syndrome from use of a handheld sander. Would rather avoid those outcomes, and think that I should be fine if I'm not using the tool very often.


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